Strong protection measures for wildlife sought as international summit on illegal trade begins in London
As decision-makers from around 50 countries meet in London tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss illegal wildlife trade, strong measures are being sought to protect elephants, rhinos, tigers and other threatened species from the bloody poaching crisis.
The London Summit on Illegal Wildlife Trade is hosted by the UK Government, HRH Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) urges governments attending to agree a series of measures which will ensure real and lasting protection for wildlife.
Alarmingly, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory. It is estimated that at least 25,000 elephants and up to 50,000 are slaughtered each year so their tusks can be used to make trinkets that nobody needs.
Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “This high level and vital summit offers an unprecedented opportunity for world leaders to agree actions to stop our populations of elephants, rhinos and tigers from being decimated for illegal trade. The public tell us they want to see our wildlife protected for future generations but governments need to work together now to stop poaching and stop the demand for wildlife products.”
IFAW believes the declaration from the London Summit needs to include measures to reduce consumer demand for ivory, rhino horn and tiger products, including public destruction of stockpiles or seized wildlife products; the introduction of bans on the trade in ivory, particularly in countries where demand is high, until elephants are protected from poaching; suspension of any future calls to sell ivory stockpiles, legalise the trade in rhino horn or farm tigers for their parts and better education of people from high consumption nations, as well as funding to improve awareness.
In addition, increased measures to prevent the trafficking of ivory, rhino horn and tiger products are needed, including greater prioritisation of tackling wildlife crime by all relevant countries, improved intelligence sharing and greater monitoring of enforcement. Measures are also needed to improve livelihoods, reduce poverty and therefore reduce the incentive to poach animals.
Marsland added: “Wildlife crime is not only a threat to wildlife, but also to national and global security as well as to social and economic development in the countries where it occurs.”
Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious and dangerous international crimes along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales. Generating an estimated £11.6 billion per year, illegal wildlife trade ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
IFAW staged an ivory surrender in recent weeks, calling on members of the public to donate unwanted ivory items to help protect elephants from the ivory trade. Hundreds of donated pieces of ivory were crushed earlier this week to ensure they would not find their way back to the marketplace and to send a symbolic call for action ahead of the London Summit.